I’m starting to recognize the power of “Remote Assistance,” a feature built into Windows XP. Click on Start / Help / Remote Assistance for information. From your computer, you extend an invitation that allows someone to look over your shoulder at your Windows screen – and even to share control of the mouse and keyboard if desired.
Although a session can be initiated by e-mail, it’s an additional incentive to set up MSN Messenger, even if you never intend to use instant messaging. Asking for Remote Assistance is an option on the MSN Messenger menus.
I’m still irritated by the confusion between Windows Messenger and MSN Messenger. (Click here for some background about the two overlapping programs.) These days I go through this process.
- Remove Windows Messenger by clicking on Start / Control Panel / Add-Remove Programs / Add-Remove Windows Components and unchecking Windows Messenger. This doesn’t really remove it but it does make it less likely to appear at unexpected moments.
- Install MSN Messenger.
- Deal with Microsoft’s annoying Passport registration. Use your existing e-mail address, and remember the password you choose!
- In MSN Messenger, click on Tools / Options / General. Uncheck “Open Messenger main window when Messenger starts,” and uncheck “Display MSN Today when Messenger signs in.” If you’re like me, you might also want to uncheck “Display alerts when contacts come online” and “Play a sound when contacts sign in or send a message.”
You don’t have to add anyone to MSN Messenger as a contact (feel free to add my e-mail address) but this will make Remote Assistance available if there’s ever a need for your favorite geek to help you out on short notice.